Investigation into the Television Rating Points (TRPs) scam involving Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami and former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) CEO Partho Dasgupta revealed further damning evidence against the duo showing their complicity in rigging TRPs in a quid pro quo deal. The probe revealed murkier details into issues involving national security as the over 1000 pages long FIR filed by police affixed whatsapp chats between Goswami and Dasgupta.
The whatsapp chats purportedly suggest that Goswami was privy to many pieces of “inside information” in the government that included information on government’s plans over Kashmir and also military secrets ahead of India’s Balakot strikes.
Discussion in the previous week pertaining to security and “privacy” of whatsapp chats may gain more relevance now that former BARC chief would say that whatsapp chats are not so private after all. It is not known how the police retrieved whatsapp chats – from Dasgupta’s phone or by a criminal probe application to whatsapp – but his accomplice – Goswami who had boasted of having “platinum standards in breaking” news may now be busy deleting his whatspp chats with former BARC chief, and now may also be batting against ALL privacy policies of Whatsapp on his Republic TV.
It is not known why the police are going soft against the TV presenter despite damning evidence and information showing suspected acts of “treason”, and why it is not taking action to retrieve evidence before it is tampered or damaged. The Mumbai police appear currently busy seeking legal opinions and the MaHa government busy deliberating or even wanting to discuss this in Assembly before tightening the noose around the TV presenter. The last time they tried doing so they know how the TV presenter, who self-admittedly, in his whatsapp chats, shows his connections with the ruling government, got swift orders in his favour against police taking coercive action. Even the Supreme Court granted an extraordinary bail to the TV anchor and observed how few governments were acting against people for their anti-government views. It is now known if this is what is hindering the MaHa government from taking further action.
In addition to the TRP fraud perpetrated by the two, the probe revealed that Goswami knew about Indian military’s plans to attack Pakistan in Balakot in retaliation to Pulwama at least three days before the strikes. In his whatsapp chat the TV anchor wrote “something big will happen …on Pakistan.. bigger than a normal strike.. That people will be elated”. “Exact words used” he wrote.
The journalist’s claims on his “platinum standards” may stand true on this particular news. How did he know, three days in advance, that India would strike Pakistan? Who gave him this news? Did his source share this information with others too? Did Goswami himself share this information with others, in addition to sharing it with Dasgupta? Did Pakistan get this leak? The Pakistan PM claimed no damage happened on their side after balakot strikes. Was it the result of this leak? Only further probe can say.
Former Defence Minister A K Antony has said that leaking official secrets about a military operation, especially an air strike, was “treason”. He questioned how the TV presenter came to know the details of the airstrike that only “four or five people” in the government are expected to know besides “military people”.
The other aspect of his chat poses crucial questions around the motive of Goswami’s source who appears to have revealed important information regularly to him. Was the source using this so-called “nationalist” new channel as a “propaganda platform” to spread information to make people “elated” by the actions of the government? Opposition is pointing towards a link between Balakot strikes and Indian general elections.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the whatsapp communications of a “war-mongering Indian journalist” revealed “the unholy nexus between the Modi government & Indian media”.
The MaHa government are reportedly “mulling” over this latest update while Goswami and others are deliberating a way out of this predicament.